There is something special about dining al fresco and sharing good food and wine with family and friends.
To help make it memorable in all the right ways here is a look at ways to create the perfect outdoor entertainment venue in your garden, including the key ingredients for a successful dinner party, why you should ditch the fancy china, plus some tips on keeping everyone comfortable and making sure your food stays fresh.
Keep it simple and convivial
You can easily spend fortunes on elaborate settings and fancy food but it is often the case that the recipe for success is more about simple but tasty food, great company, and a convivial setting.
If you are looking for comfortable seating and dining options you can find it at Bridgman, for example, and once you have that sorted the rest can very often fall into place more easily, once everyone is relaxed and comfortable in your garden surroundings.
Make sure you choose deep and comfortable cushions for your dining chairs and that will help to make sure they stay longer at the table and enjoy the company and the food without having to think about their comfort.
Eclectic mix wins the day
If your aim is to try and create a relaxed and informal atmosphere that encourages everyone to feel right at home and stay awhile, don’t be tempted to dress the table with expensive decorations or use your best china.
The best outdoor dining experiences are often when you are less worried about the crockery being chipped and more concerned with making sure the food and drink flows.
An eclectic mix of plates, bowls, glasses and cutlery helps to create a much more laid-back vibe and when you or your guests are not fretting about breaking some of your fancy crockery they can enjoy the company a bit more easily.
Food for the masses
It’s a nice thought to try and conjure up a stunning feast of exotic food and taste sensations but that can be a lot of hard work and a bit stressful for you as the host.
Your efforts won’t go unappreciated of course, but good honest picnic style food and some burgers and sausages from the grill, combined with a nice fresh salad, normally hits the spot for many people so don’t over complicate things when simple menus — done well — are just as effective and welcomed by your guests.
Encourage your guests to roam
If you want to keep the party flowing and would like your guests to feel free to wander from one area to another, you could set up separate areas for desserts and drinks.
It can help the evening flow and encourages everyone to mingle a bit more if you put the desserts on another table and invite them to help themselves. Do the same with the drinks and you will see guests circulating and striking up new conversations as they roam.
Keeping your food fresh and tasty
One of the challenges of outdoor entertaining is that when the sun is shining your food can soon start to spoil if the temperature is too high.
If you are putting things like dips out for your guests plus other dairy-based products that are going to be susceptible to warm weather after a time a good trick would be to arrange to fill a large bowl with ice, sprinkle it with some kosher salt, then place the dip bowl on the top.
This will keep your dips fresher for longer
Another good tip to stop your food from spoiling is to keep bugs away from the table. You can use an upended wire-mesh colander to stop insects from landing on the food plates and if you use a few bug lanterns they attract them to the light and not your food.
Put them in a place away from the dining table and you can enjoy the attractive lighting that modern lanterns offer and hopefully they will help to keep the bugs at bay.
When the sun goes down
A great way to keep the party atmosphere going long after the sun has gone down is to make sure you decorate the gardens with some inexpensive but attractive lighting options.
Paper lanterns draped from your trees won’t cost much to organize but they do look great and create a delightful and atmospheric backdrop while the food and drink keep flowing.
Follow some of these tips and you should find your outdoor entertaining is a breeze and everyone has a good time.
Demi Crawford, a home designer, loves to entertain outdoors as much as possible. She also enjoys sharing her insights on a number of homeowner and lifestyle websites.
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